We have all heard this phrase or something similar to it before – ‘A couple that ____ together, stays together.’ While I don’t know how that phrase came into existence, it has, however, changed how many people look at relationships in general. I’m not saying it’s wrong to spend time with your partner. All I’m saying is if you solely depend on them for any sort of entertainment or excitement, it is wrong. Not too sure on what I’m talking about? Let’s break it down!
Almost Is Never Enough
Like I’ve mentioned in another post ‘How Distance Affects A Relationship?’, relationships can be of any kind. However, what differs is who you’re with in that relationship and how you behave around them. However, today I will specifically be talking about a romantic as well as a platonic relationship.
I’ve come across so many relationships where the pair is so in sync, it almost feels unnatural. And while this may not seem out of place, I found it weird that one of them was always available for the other. Still doesn’t sound odd? This situation is a classic example of Codependent Relationships.
But what are codependent relationships? Is it where one of them is extremely clingy, or doesn’t understand what personal space is? No.
A codependent relationship consists of two people, a dependent and an enabler. The dependent’s whole life revolves around their partner, and they will try every little thing to please them. Whereas, the enabler enjoys this attention, since they need to be needed.
When it comes to relationships, people struggle to differentiate between dependent and codependent. Why? Because while the two seem very different, a lot of people fail to see them or find the differences extremely subtle. But they are very different. One of them being that in a dependent relationship, both the individuals rely on each other for love and support. A codependent relationship, however, includes a dependent who is believed to feel worthless unless the enabler needs them. In tough times, the enabler is the one who makes the drastic choices, leaving the dependent content and the enabler having enjoyed every bit of attention they get from their companion.
While their relationship will always be their priority in a dependent relationship, they’re still allowed to have other interests and pursue other friendships and hobbies. That, however, isn’t the same with a codependent relationship. The dependent willingly, or unwillingly has no interests, friendships, or hobbies. Their main and only focus would be their relationship. This obviously doesn’t apply to the enabler.
The dependent often tends to overlook various important aspects of their life only because they want to please their partner and make them happy. Not only do they neglect other relationships, but they also neglect their professional life and more. But a codependent relationship affects both the parties involved. While the dependent continues to rely heavily on the enabler, they(enabler), however, will rely on similar one-sided relationships in the future. Why? Because they will be unable to pursue or be attracted to a dependent relationship.
Show Me A Sign
It is often quite difficult to differentiate between a regular clingy person and a dependent person. But there are a few signs for you to determine whether a loved one is in a codependent relationship.
- Ignores the red flags
Red flags are an important tell in a relationship. And all of us know someone who is so in love with their significant other, that they ignore every possible red flag they’re handed, especially the massively obvious ones.
But a dependent would usually decide to stay in a relationship despite the red flags and their unhappiness. Why? Because unfortunately, their whole life revolves around their significant other. And if they leave, then their life as they know it would cease to exist.
- Their overwhelming guilt
It is extremely common for someone to feel guilty about various things in a relationship. Having watched an episode of that show you were supposed to binge together? Did you eat the last of the fries? Did you accidentally push them off the bed? All of these are valid guilt-worthy scenarios.
What’s not okay is if you feel guilty about putting your happiness, desires, or personal needs before theirs. It is okay to put yourself before your partner when the time calls for it.
- They don’t understand the difference between Love and Pity
I’ve personally come across many such people who tend to gravitate towards people they can ‘rescue’ or ‘fix’. While that may seem like a superhero complex to most people, it usually is just a way for them to ‘do something’ for their partner.
It may look like love to a lot of people, including themselves. But love isn’t about feeling pity for their partner or even fixing them because you have to. Love is about supporting and building someone up along, while also growing with them.
- The fear of abandonment
It is very normal for the dependent to dread abandonment. But why do they feel this way? Everything from the constant upkeep of the relationship, to pleasing the enabler and more, can take a toll on the dependent. How? This entire process leads to the dependent becoming sensitive to any bad situation. Even the smallest disagreement could ignite their abandonment issues.
These are just a few of the signs, but there are so many more you will come across. It could be low self-esteem, lack of trust, chronic anger, need for recognition and approval, and so much more. But while there are so many telling signs, is there any way for you to identify it?
Where Is Your Heart?
It’s so easy for a lot of people to say that the signs were so obvious, or they always knew. But sometimes it isn’t, and that’s fine. Here are a few things you should ask yourself or someone who is in a similar situation.
- Does the world’s opinion matter to you?
- What is the general reaction to an argument? Do you avoid it?
- Are you unable to accept compliments?
- Do you have trouble speaking to an authoritative figure?
- Is it difficult to ask for help?
- Do you have trouble saying no?
- Do you feel rejected when they choose to spend time with their family or friends?
There are so many questions you can ask someone to determine whether you’re in a codependent relationship. People who end up in a codependent relationship have often gone to a lot of things leading up to this. It isn’t just something they find themselves in, but it is a learned behaviour that stems from their past and emotional difficulties.
It could either be because of a damaged parental relationship, being a caregiver for most of your life, or come from an abusive family. But how could either of these lead to a codependent relationship?
Watching a parent showcase substance abuse, or have them coddle you could make it a damaged parental relationship. Both of these situations enable you to become a dependent and either make excuses or please them. It would be the same in the other situations I pointed out as well. Not only do these situations force you to depend on an authoritative figure, but it also teaches you to put your thoughts and opinions in the backseat.
But how does this affect you and your relationship?
Wouldn’t Be Love
Everybody wants their relationship to be perfect, and often go through a lot to make sure it stays that way. But a codependent relationship seems perfect for all the wrong reasons. While it does seem pretty clear, those still pursuing it wouldn’t find anything wrong with their relationship. But the thing about a codependent relationship is that it is very toxic.
From the constant fear and anxiety to the unhealthy obsession of pleasing your partner, the relationship has so many red flags while being a huge red flag itself. And it may not seem like it, but it takes a toll on both the parties involved. Apart from not knowing what a healthy, dependent relationship looks like, it also takes a huge toll on their mental health and other relationships with family and friends.
Codependent relationships, like every other relationship, get intense. But the only difference is that the anxiety, unhappiness, pain, disappointment, all of this make it twice as toxic. So is there something you can do about it?
As You Are
It is important to understand the cause of your codependency. Not just you, but your family or friends need to educate themselves as well. You need to ask for help and be okay with accepting it as well. Professional help would also be a good way to heal, depending on what you’ve gone through; the treatment involved will help you open up to other opportunities – personal and professional.
This may not seem like much, but understanding and appreciating your self worth is extremely important for the dependent. Not only does this help with building your confidence, but it will also be a step closer to you trusting yourself with making your own decisions and standing up for yourself.
Apart from getting professional help as well as your family, taking a much-needed break would help as well. It’s not much, but stepping away from what seems to be an unhealthy and toxic relationship will help put your mind on things you pushed aside. Maybe taking up a new activity or hobby, or spending time with supportive family and friends, the options are endless.
You should always start the healing process with small steps because rushing things are never good. While you slowly heal, you will also realize how toxic and unhealthy your bond was, and you will soon come across something healthy and enjoyable. This process will help you heal as a person, but it will also show you that you truly deserve a loving, balanced, two-sided relationship.
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